The snow gods have blessed us with bountiful powder the last three days in Engelberg. Thursday was my first full-on powder day here, and… well… what can I say… this place rocks! Friday was a tough day… uber deep powder… knee-deep… chest-deep… but no visibility… none… total foggy whiteout. It was brail survival riding just to make it down the marked pistes. So Friday was a bust, but all the off piste remained untouched due to the whiteout, so Saturday… Saturday was full harvest in action. The weekend warriors were out in force, but even the shitshow crowds of powder hounds missed a few large stashes which I was happy to shred until the end of the day. So, when’s the next storm???
Here are a couple worthy photos from the Titlis webcam, at 3,020m (9,900 ft.) elevation, at the top of the Engelberg ski area. It’s been dumping snow the last several days in a highly localized storm which has been socked in from the north but never really made it over the main spine of the Alps. (I noticed that webcams from Zermatt, which is not that far away really, have been showing bluebird skies this whole time). Anyhow, the webcam photo above is from Friday evening, as the storm started to taper off. The clouds had lowered below the peaks at sunset, and oh, how I wish I was there at that moment to take a photo myself!
Another worthy webcam photo. Yes, my camera and I would have enjoyed this as well. All day today there was a cloud-deck at around the 1800m elevation. Snowing below in Engelberg; bright and sunny above on the higher peaks. This is one of my favorite weather phenomena; there’s something so amazing about being on a mountainous island in the sky, with an ocean of clouds below.
This cloud “inversion” is actually a very common occurrence in the mountains around Engelberg. And already in the two weeks I’ve been here, I’ve experienced this on numerous days, when I’ve wished I could be up high for sunrise or sunset, but instead am relegated to viewing it later in the day, or via webcam. The challenge is that these mountains are BIG – up to around 6,500 vertical feet above the town of Engelberg. Staying up at the top of the ski area for sunset is not practical at all (which you’d know if you’ve been here). Getting up early and hiking all the way up one of these mountains for sunrise would be an all-night affair, much of which would be in the cloudy mist- also not practical. The only other obvious option is winter camping. Too bad I didn’t bring all my winter camping gear with me to Europe (which would have nearly doubled my luggage size).
I’m wracking my brains trying to figure out a way that I can photograph these inversions at sunrise or sunset. It’s especially tormenting knowing that they are so common here, but yet so difficult to attain! But, that’s the photographer in me speaking… the snowboarder in me, in the meantime, has been having a blast in all the fresh powder!
Sunset above the town of Engelberg, Switzerland. I hope to have an opportunity sometime this winter to take this shot when everything is covered in a blanket of fresh snow! As you can see, the lower elevations around town are hurting for snow right now, but the upper elevations recently got a decent dump, which you can see below. Continue reading “Sunset Above Engelberg”→
I have moved into my studio apartment in Engelberg, Switzerland, where I will be spending the rest of the winter! And I have already had my first days on the mountain!
There’s no fresh snow right now, so I’ve just been cruising around on the different lifts and pistes, trying to get a feel for the place. My first impression is that the ski area is pretty BIG, despite looking fairly small on the ski map. There seems to be many options for off-piste skiing, and I know there are a lot of major lines that I can’t see. But this is not a place for carefree exploring, with large cliffs and crevasses on many slopes, not to mention potential avy danger. So a big hope I have is to find some people to ski with, who know this place and can show me the ropes. And that’s the impression I have, is that it will take some time, effort, and guidance to figure out the secrets of this place. Good thing I have all winter for that!
This week we are chilling out for Christmas holidays in the Austrian ski town of Mayrhofen. I’ve spent a couple days exploring the Mayrhofen ski area, an expansive area with a somewhat illogical lift arrangement. This is the first real mega-resort I’ve visited yet in the Alps, along with mega-crowds (especially since everyone’s on vacation this week). It’s quite the ski production here, with big fast lifts, the hugest tram I’ve ever seen, and the thumping Austrian apre-ski bars! I am also looking forward to exploring some of the other ski areas in the Zillertal valley in the next few days (Mayrhofen is just one… there’s three other ones I want to see too!) Though the snow conditions aren’t the best right now, it’s still fun to cruise around, snap photos, and check out new mountains.
Merry Christmas and happy holidays! As I mentioned in my email newsletter which I just sent out, I will miss my friends and family back home this holiday season, but I am in good company with Claudia over here and we will be spending this next week together in Mayrhofen, Austria. I hope Santa brings lots of snow!
The photo above is from the Black Forest (more like “White Forest”) the other day. The jolly snowman magically appeared via Photoshop!
Yesterday afternoon we drove up to Schauinsland, a mountain in the Black Forest above Freiburg, for a “look into the country” so to speak. We took a small hike through the winter-wonderland forest to the summit, where there’s a tall lookout tower offering a view over the Black Forest and the plains around Freiburg far below.
We stayed up there for a few hours, photographing the beautiful snow-plastered forest and waiting in the howling winds for what turned out to be an awesome sunset!
Last weekend we visited the towns of Grindelwald and Mürren in Switzerland. These towns are situated in the Jungfrau region near Interlaken, at the foot of some of the largest and most rugged mountains in Switzerland.
Above is a photo of Grindelwald, with Wetterhorn towering above in the moonlight. Not to be confused with the American Wetterhorn in Colorado… this is the original!
The town of Mürren is even more spectacular. It’s a car-free town perched on the edge of a sheer cliff high above a valley (requiring a cable-car ride to get to), with the Jungfrau peaks towering another 8,000 vertical feet overhead! Perhaps the most spectacular mountain town I’ve ever seen!